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Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in compliance with resolution of January 27, report of Lieutenant Taunt of a journey on the river Congo
(1887)

Letter from the Secretary of the Navy, transmitting, in compliance with resolution of January 27, report of Lieutenant Taunt of a journey on the river Congo,   pp. [1]-42 ff.


Page 15

JOURNEY ON THE RIVER CONGO.
fortable as could be expected in the interior of Africa; and to a great
extent it depends upon the white men themselves whether they are com-
fortable or not.
I was much struck with the fact that in some stations the canned
provisions are seldom used. The native food, such as goat, fowl, eggs,
and the l)roducts of the garden, are found to answer all requirements,
and this diet is much more healthy than any other.
Again, in other stations, the fresh tod was never met with, except
when purchased in small quantities from the natives. At the Stanley
Falls Station, on my arrival there in August, I found the white men
living almost entirely on fish; their six months' allowance of canned
stores had been consumed in less than four months, and notwithstand-
ing the fact that their garden would yield good vegetables in abundance,
none appeared on their table.
FOO1P.
All commissary stores are furnished by the State, the agents receiv-
ing a liberal ration in addition to their salary. Boxes of canned stores
of all descriptions are sent out by Morton & Co., of England, and Jeune
& Co., of Belgium. These stores, in addition to the native food of sheep,
goat, fowl, eggs, and vegetables, furnish the tables of the stations. I
noticed fruit, milk, and beef that had been canned in the United States,
sold in Europe, and resold to the Brussels committee. Portuguese wine,
or Bordeaux is supplied, one bottle being allowed each man per day.
Brandy and champagne is supplied in moderate quantities, the latter
especially being considered invaluable in severe fever cases.
From Banana to Stanley Pool the native food is becoming very
scarce, and the prices demanded are exorbitant for that ofired for sale.
On my journey up country in May, I had no trouble buying all I
needed. The caravan route passed through several populous villages,
and all prices were moderate. But on my return in October, 1 found it
all changed. The villages were abandoned, and had been moved away
from the route; it was almost impossible to buy anything except on
market days, and then only at greatly advanced prices. In May, from
four to six eggs could be bought for an empty bottle, but in October
they could not be bought for any price.
To the excesses of the Zanzibaris and iloussas much of this trouble
can be traced. These troops, during their trips up and down country,
when not in charge of a white man, have in some instances stolen from
the natives, assaulted the women, &c. There could be no immediate
redress, as the State troops are always well armed.
As the, number of white men increases on the Lower River, the native
food question will become a serious one. At this date, most of the
trading houses obtain vegetables and other stores from Europe. The
Dutch Atrican Trading Company, for example, bas a steamer arriving
every three months at Bauana with vegetables and other stores for all
the factories belonyging to that company. This state of affairs does not
exist on the Upper River; there, native food can be had in abundance
and at moderate prices.
Manioc, sweet potatoes, peas, beans, bananas, and yams are grown by
the natives throughout the Congo Valley, but not in large quantities
on the Lower River.
The State rations its black treol)s and laborers on rice and manioc,
With a smfil allowance of trade rui or gin when it can be had. The
manioc is prepared by the natives, being ground up very tfine, wrapped


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